‘Golden Girls’ Star Rue McClanahan Knew the Show Was Going to Be a Hit from Start

by Megan Molseed

You could say it was love at first sight when former Golden Girls star Rue McClanahan first laid eyes on the script for the hit NBC sitcom.

For the longtime actress, the connection she felt with the initial Golden Girls script that first day was more than just the words she was reading on the page.

There was something else, something bigger that she saw in the document that told her the show would become the beloved – and timeless – success that it has.

“I said this is going to be a hit,” the actress recalls thinking when she first opened the folder that contained the very first script for the hit show.

“There was something about the script,” the actress explains noting that the typeset the scriptwriters had chosen, along with the name of the series drew her in immediately. “The kind of writing that they chose.”

She hadn’t even read the words on the page yet, the McClanahan notes. But, there was something about what she was looking at that told her the script would be something special.

“I felt this is a winner,” the actress recalls of the moment she first set eyes on the Golden Girls script. “I can’t wait to read it.”

And, boy did Rue McClanahan have a sense for these things.

Even decades after the popular NBC sitcom left the primetime airwaves it continues to be one of the most beloved shows of all time.

The hit series starred Rue McClanahan as the siren-esque “southern belle” Blanche Devereaux.

Joining McClanahan in the Golden Girls cast was Bea Arthur, who played Dorthy Zbornak, the strong-willed and often sarcastic divorcee and substitute teacher; Betty White who portrayed the ditsy but endlessly positive Rose Nylund; and Estelle Getty who portrayed Dorthy’s spunky mother Sophia.

The ‘Golden Girls’ Were As Original As They Come

Rue McClanahan also recalls how different the women who played on the show were from their characters…including herself.

“None of us was like any of our characters,” the actress recalls.

“People ask me if I am like Blanche and my standard answer is: ‘Get serious! Look at the facts, Blanche is a man-crazy, glamorous, extremely sexy, successful with men Southern belle from Atlanta, Georgia,” McClanahan says. “And I’m not from Atlanta!”

While the iconic Golden Girls actresses were nothing like their on-screen counterparts the actresses were amazing at portraying some of our favorite on-screen friendships as the characters tried to navigate through their golden years.

However, while the Golden Girls’on-screen closeness was a fan favorite, this wasn’t always a part of reality for the cast. Particularly when it came to the relationship between McClanahan and Bea Arthur.

“Bea and I didn’t have a lot of relationship going on,” McClanahan recalls of her Golden Girls costar.

“Bea is a very, very eccentric woman,” the late actress continued.

“She wouldn’t go to lunch (with me) unless Betty (White)  would go with her,” McClanahan adds. “She was very dependent on keeping everything as it always had been, and I was anything but that.”

While McClanahan and Arthur may have struggled to connect off-screen, their issues certainly did not come across on-screen.

And, McClanahan says, her relationship with Betty White was much more friendly.

“Betty and I loved word games,” McClanahan recalled. “We would play word games every day. We had games going all the time off-camera.”